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Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)

DigiTrad:
CRANBERRY BOGS
ROLLING TO CAIRO TOWN (ROUSTABOUT SONG)
WAY DOWN IN SHAWNEETOWN


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Humane Society (Dillon Bustin) (8)
Lyr ADD: Thirty Dirty Sailors (Dillon Bustin) (6)
Lyr discuss: Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin) (34)


RonU 04 Apr 98 - 12:45 AM
Susan of DT 04 Apr 98 - 10:43 AM
Barry Finn 04 Apr 98 - 03:05 PM
Dale Rose 04 Apr 98 - 03:27 PM
Ferrara 04 Apr 98 - 03:30 PM
RonU 05 Apr 98 - 12:03 AM
Paul Stamler 05 Apr 98 - 02:12 PM
Whippoorwill 06 Apr 98 - 12:48 PM
06 Jul 98 - 11:56 AM
Art Thieme 07 Jul 98 - 10:02 AM
Mike T. 31 Aug 98 - 02:29 PM
Mark Roffe 08 May 99 - 12:33 AM
Joe Offer 08 May 99 - 12:45 AM
Mark Roffe 08 May 99 - 12:56 AM
Mark Roffe 08 May 99 - 01:12 AM
Sandy Paton 08 May 99 - 01:57 AM
Barry Finn 08 May 99 - 08:44 AM
Paul G. 08 May 99 - 11:33 AM
Sandy Paton 08 May 99 - 01:21 PM
Matthew B. 16 May 99 - 11:08 PM
Mark Roffe 20 May 99 - 12:19 AM
Sandy Paton 20 May 99 - 12:47 AM
Fadac 20 May 99 - 10:17 AM
Mark Roffe 20 May 99 - 05:38 PM
Matthew B. 21 May 99 - 09:26 AM
Sandy Paton 22 May 99 - 03:20 PM
Sandy Paton 22 May 99 - 03:24 PM
Mark Roffe 22 May 99 - 04:52 PM
Charley Noble 17 Sep 07 - 10:01 AM
Jim Dixon 30 Sep 07 - 01:12 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 Sep 07 - 03:22 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 Sep 07 - 10:43 PM
GUEST 17 Jan 08 - 04:11 PM
GUEST,Marlisa Clapp 19 May 09 - 12:11 PM
Art Thieme 19 May 09 - 02:59 PM
Jacob B 20 May 09 - 11:50 AM
ClaireBear 30 Dec 10 - 12:16 PM
stallion 30 Dec 10 - 02:56 PM
Gibb Sahib 30 Dec 10 - 05:11 PM
Charley Noble 30 Dec 10 - 05:31 PM
GUEST,leeneia 31 Dec 10 - 03:28 PM
Charley Noble 31 Dec 10 - 09:27 PM
GUEST,leeneia 01 Jan 11 - 11:04 AM
GUEST,leeneia 01 Jan 11 - 11:08 AM
GUEST 10 Feb 12 - 07:07 PM
Charley Noble 10 Feb 12 - 08:29 PM
GUEST,Harris (classmate of Dillon's) 01 Apr 12 - 08:57 PM
GUEST 04 Jun 13 - 11:52 PM
Squaresinger 28 Feb 14 - 10:26 AM
GUEST,Tuco 19 Feb 16 - 05:00 AM
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Subject: Way down in Shawneetown
From: RonU
Date: 04 Apr 98 - 12:45 AM

Way down in Shawneetown on the O Hi O. Can anyone help me with the rest of the words to this song? Thanks, RonU


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Subject: RE: Way down in Shawneetown
From: Susan of DT
Date: 04 Apr 98 - 10:43 AM

It was either written or collected by Dillon Bustin. chorus is:

Haul on the beach oar
She moves too slow
Way down to Shawneetown
On the Ohio


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Subject: Lyr Add: SHAWNEETOWN
From: Barry Finn
Date: 04 Apr 98 - 03:05 PM

Somes rows up, we flowed down
Way down the Ohio to Shawneetown

Haul on the beach oar, she moves to slow
Way down to Shawneetown on the Ohio

There's corn in crib, boys, grain in the sack
Float on down to New Orleans & bushwack her back

I've got a gal in Louisville, a wife in New Orleans
When I get to Shawneetown I'll see my Indian Queen

The water is cold boys, the air is thick & dank
The fog it's so god damned thick I cannot see the bank

I got down Sandy & Caroline Paton as a source. Barry


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Subject: RE: Way down in Shawneetown
From: Dale Rose
Date: 04 Apr 98 - 03:27 PM

Another good version, though difficult to find (and I can't locate mine, either) is by The Indian Creek Delta Boys.


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Subject: RE: Way down in Shawneetown
From: Ferrara
Date: 04 Apr 98 - 03:30 PM

Malcolm Dalglish and Grey Larsen also sing this. Their first line seems to be "Some rows up, but we floats down." I'll try to check and see if they have any additional verses.


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Subject: RE: Way down in Shawneetown
From: RonU
Date: 05 Apr 98 - 12:03 AM

Many thanks for your responses. RonU


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Subject: RE: Way down in Shawneetown
From: Paul Stamler
Date: 05 Apr 98 - 02:12 PM

Pete Lippincott may still have some copies of the Indian Creek Delta Boys' LP "Late for the Dance", which was on his Prairie Schooner label. His address is:

dordog@cei.net

Peace. Paul


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Subject: RE: Way down in Shawneetown
From: Whippoorwill
Date: 06 Apr 98 - 12:48 PM

Just a little historical note:

Shawneetown is a very small town in southern Illinois, just west of the Indiana line. Like so many other river towns it was nearly washed away many times by high water, and finally moved up on the bluff. Its main claim to fame in the '50s was a justice of the peace who would perform marriages without the three-day waiting period required in Indiana. Numerous young couples from Evansville and thereabouts eloped to Shawneetown in those days, even when they had their parents' permission to marry.


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Subject: Shawnee Town
From:
Date: 06 Jul 98 - 11:56 AM

I'm guessing about the spelling of the song. I sang it briefly at a dance and music camp. It starts out,

"Its hard on the beech oar, she moves too slow, Way down t' Shawnee (Shoney, Shaney?) town, on the Ohio"

I'd love the rest of the words and verses and best of all possible worlds, the chords or music.

Thanks to anyone who responds,

Donna Odell donna@unr.edu Reno, Nevada


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Subject: Lyr Add: STATE OF ILLINOIS
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Jul 98 - 10:02 AM

SHAWNEETOWN was the first town in Illinois. It's on the Ohio River. Was a major emigration point of entry into the territory (southern Illinois)for folks coming by water and via the Wilderness Road (Kentucky). The rivers were the highway into the interior of the unknown continent then. In 1937 the huge flood just about wiped out the town so it was moved 3 miles further inland. But the old Shawneetown, with many buildings and the huge old bank (complete with pillars) is STILL THERE. It's worth the trip if you get close---so much history there. The SHAWNEE FERRY ran there for 150 years---until the 1950s when a bridge was built. An old story is that folks from the northern part of the territory (not yet a state) went to the bank there for a loan to further a small development up in the N. area. They were refused the loan because "Chicago was too far away from Shawneetown to ever amount to anything!"

STATE OF ILLINOIS (a theme song of mine for many years. Is traditional.)

Way down upon the Wabash such a land was never known,
If Adam had crossed over it this land he'd surely known,
He'd say it was the garden he'd lived in as a boy
And straightway call it Eden in the state of Illinois

Ch) So move your family westward-bring all your girls and boys,
And cross the Shawnee Ferry to the state of Illinois.

She's bounded by the Wabash, Mississippi and the Lakes,
There's milk sick in the on thr prairie--and in the swamps there's snakes,
But these are slight diversions that take not from the joys
Of living in that garden spot called the state of Illinois.

CH) So move your family westward--bring all your girls and boys
And rise to wealth and honor in the state of Illinois.

It was here the queen of Sheba came with solomon of old,
With a wagon load of spices, pomegranates and fine gold
But when she saw that lovely land her heart was full of joy
Straightway she said , I'd like to be a queen in Illinois."

Way up in the nothland upon the border line,
Agreat commercial city, Chicago, you will find,
Her men are all like Abelard---her women like Heloise,
All honest, virtuous people 'cause they live in Illinois.

Way up in the north


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Subject: History - Way Down in Shawneetown
From: Mike T.
Date: 31 Aug 98 - 02:29 PM

Does anyone have any tidbits of History or other info about the song "Way Down In Shawneetown" (It's in the DT)

Mike


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Subject: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Mark Roffe
Date: 08 May 99 - 12:33 AM

I have a question about this uncommonly great song. The song can be found in the database. Here's the beginning:

WAY DOWN IN SHAWNEETOWN
(Dillon Bustin)

Some rows up, we float down
Way down the Ohio to Shawneetown

My roommate of 20 yrs ago (Jessica) taught me this song. I think she told me it was written by two students on the east coast who had an assignment to write a song in the style of an old folk song. If this is correct, they sure succeeded and then some.

Jessica is a wonderful singer who is married to British guitarist Martin Simpson. She has a clear-as-a-bell voice, and always sang this song a cappella.

After looking this song up in the database, and finding it was written by Dillon Bustin (with Sandy and Caroline Paton as "source"), I went exploring the internet for more information on Dillon. I could only find him at Legacy Records, which is, I gather, Paton country (do the Patons own the label?)

I'd like to know more about the history of the song. Like was it written as Jessica explained? Who has recorded it? Is it on one of the Legacy records? ...and any other info about the song and about Dillon Bustin.

Thanks,

Mark


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 May 99 - 12:45 AM

Hi, Mark - using the filter and searching for shaw, I found one other thread on this song here.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Mark Roffe
Date: 08 May 99 - 12:56 AM

Thanks, Joe. Interesting reading in there about the town itself as well as the lyrics.

My questions about Dillon Bustin and about how the song came to be are still open, folkies (of course, the thread is only five minutes old, and I already got an answer that pointed me to some great information -- at the speed of the 'cat).

I just remembered that Jessica said the song was about rafts that were rowed for the upstream trip, and then floated down for the return.

Mark


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Mark Roffe
Date: 08 May 99 - 01:12 AM

Come to think of it, I think Jessica might have said it was about barges on the river that were pulled upstream and then floated down....
I was gonna call her in Santa Cruz to get a refresh, but it turns out the Simpson's have recently moved to New Orleans and I've got no number there for them.
I'll bet Sandy must know all about Dillon and about this song. He's sure to see this thread bobbing in the muddy water sooner or later.

Mark


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 08 May 99 - 01:57 AM

Flatboats were generally floated down the river to New Orleans, then broken up and sold for their timber while the crews hiked back upstream or along the Natchez Trace. Keelboats (later) were more valuable and they were hauled back upstream by "bushwhacking" brute labor.

The text in the blue clicky thingy takes you to one that is not exactly the way Caroline and I learned the song. We do sing the first verse as "Some rows up, we floats down." However, we did make one conscious change, used only when singing the song for a bunch of junior-high students. I just couldn't face singing "Hard on the beech (beach?) oar" and listening to the giggles from the kids. We started singing "Haul on the beech oar" instead. Call me chicken, but those kids are hard enough to control as it is!
(To answer your question, Mark, yes, Caroline and I started the Folk-Legacy label, with Lee Haggerty, back in 1961.) I think Legacy must be Dillon's own label, on which he has released a number of cassettes of his original material. He's a brilliant songmaker and an excellent folklorist. He was "state folklorist" of Massachusetts (and every state ought to have one) until they got stingy with the budget up there.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Barry Finn
Date: 08 May 99 - 08:44 AM

Hi Sandy, any clue as to the songs origin, I always thought it was traditional. I gonna send you an e-mail about Julianna. Barry


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Paul G.
Date: 08 May 99 - 11:33 AM

Just a brief interjection to mention that if you have not heard the version of Shawneetown by my friend and fellow north Floridian, Sam Pacetti, you are missing pure genius. The CD is "Solitary Travel" on Waterbug. Sam was a protege of Gamble Rogers, and is a 23 year old finger-style magician. All of you celtic fans will appreciate Sam's treatment of the music...

Blessings,

Paul G.


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 08 May 99 - 01:21 PM

You know, Barry, I'm not sure. I have a vague memory that suggests Dillon got a fragment of it from an elderly southern Indiana "informant" known as "Poss'" Skaggs, then filled it out with his own contributions. But don't take that as Gospel; let me do some homework first. Got your E-mail, thanks. I appreciate it.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Matthew B.
Date: 16 May 99 - 11:08 PM

So what's the verdict? When was this song written, by whom, and under what circumstances? (my favorite theory is the one about the two college students)

Does anybody know?


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Mark Roffe
Date: 20 May 99 - 12:19 AM

I'd still like to know the answer to that one, Matthew.

I may have put Sandy off the scent when I mistakenly called the label on which someone recorded a Dillon Bustin song as the "Legacy" label -- it was actually the "Folk-Legacy" label, which Sandy and friends started in 1961. (The album is ONLY HUMAN, Folk-Legacy #CD-5061, by Cindy Kallet, Ellen Epstein and Michael Cicone. I don't know which of Dillon Bustin's songs are on the record, and I don't know if Dillon has written songs other than "Shawneetown.")

Web searches yielded that Dillon does perform at Massachusetts festivals, but I haven't yet found a way to contact him. So...Sandy, can you tell us more about how the song came to be, or maybe how to contact Dillon?

Thanks,

Mark


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 20 May 99 - 12:47 AM

Still workin' on it. Sorry. I can't find my original notes. Next week we're gonna get organized!

We help to market the Kallet, Epstein, Cicone recordings, Angels in Daring and Only Human, but we didn't produce them. Those two, an Cindy's solo Dreaming Down a Quiet Line were "self-produced" CDs. Now, I recently learned, they have a new one coming out on Philo, one of Rounder's labels.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Fadac
Date: 20 May 99 - 10:17 AM

Hi A song called "Shawnee town" was reliesed by St. Elmos Choir, a all femail sea chantie group in the Pacific Northwest. The name of the tape is White Stocking Day. I bought mine from the Hyde st. pier musium book shop, in Down town San Francisco, ca. I don't have the phone number...sorry, but that info should get you close.


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Mark Roffe
Date: 20 May 99 - 05:38 PM

Thanks, Sandy. Don't knock yerself out -- I've been wanting to find out about this for about 20 years. Guess a little more waiting won't make much difference.

Mark


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Matthew B.
Date: 21 May 99 - 09:26 AM

But I want to know Now!!!

:)


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Subject: Lyr Add: SHAWNEETOWN (sung by Dalglish & Larsen)
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 22 May 99 - 03:20 PM

At long last, some information for you. Malcolm Dalglish and Grey Larsen recorded "Shawneetown" on their The First of Autumn LP (June Appal JA026). What follows is taken from the booklet that accompanied the album.

We learned "Shawneetown" from a good friend of ours, Dillon Bustin. Dillon learned part of the song when he was young from a year-round fisherman (*) on the White River in Indiana. Since then he has picked up verses from travel logs and novels of the keelboat era. He even made up one of the verses. (**)
Shawneetown is an Ohio River town in southern Illinois just a little south of the Wabash River junction. The town was the first Anglo settlement on the Ohio and before 1830 was the major trade center for Illinois settlers and the Indians. The nearby salt mines provided the town's major commodity.
The most efficient commercial boats in those days were the keelboats. Unlike flatboats and rafts, which only travelled downriver, the keelboats made the difficult trip back as well. In the days before steam power, and before present dams tamed the river's currents, the methods for getting a boat back up river (whether "cordelling" or "bushwacking" ) involved the crew literally pulling the boat against the current. While a downriver trip from Cincinnati to New Orleans took only a few weeks, the return trip took several months. … The use of the beech oar, a long oar that most river craft had to guide the boat as well as to physically maneuver it off mudslicks and snags, was the main work of the downriver course.

Here's the text as Dalglish and Larsen recorded it:

SHAWNEETOWN
(Dillon Bustin)

Some rows up, but we floats down,
Way down the Ohio to Shawneetown.

Chorus:
Hard on the beech oar, she moves too slow.
Way down to Shawneetown on the Ohio.


Now the current's got her and we'll take up the slack.
Float her down to Shawneetown and we'll bushwack her back.

The whiskey's in the jug, boys, the wheat is in the sack.
We'll trade 'em down to Shawneetown and we'll bring the rock salt back.

I got a wife in Louisville and one in New Orleans,
And when I get to Shawneetown gonna see my Indian Queen.

The water's might warm, boys, the air is cold and dank,
And the cursed fog it gets so thick you cannot see the bank.

(repeat first verse)

(*) This, as I recall, is the gentleman known as 'Poss Skaggs.
(**) They don't say which one, however.

That's about all I can come up with. It would seem, then, that credit for the song should be given completely to Dillon. He created the song from a fragment.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 22 May 99 - 03:24 PM

If you copy this text, please correct "curses" to "cursed" in the penultimate verse. Thanks.
[Done]
Sandy, super-typist.


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Mark Roffe
Date: 22 May 99 - 04:52 PM

Thank you for your work on this, Sandy. I'm really looking forward to an opportunity to do something as nice for you. I've wondered about this song for many years. Now I can even pass the information on to Jessica, who taught me the song over twenty years ago.
And just after writing the above paragraph, I was searching the net for albums by Jessica and her husband Martin, and I found that they also recorded "Way Down Shawneetown" on an 1994 Shanachie album called "Martin Simpson: Collection." !! I haven't heard the album, but CDNow had a short clip of the song, and it is the same song. Give it a listen. (I also found it on Tunes.com, but for some reason their cut-order is all mixed up and if you click on one song you get a different one, so the CDnow works better, at least for Shawneetown.)

Mark


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Charley Noble
Date: 17 Sep 07 - 10:01 AM

Here's an unrelated "Shawneetown" song:
^^
SHAWNEETOWN

Shawneetown is burnin' down,
Who tole you so?
Shawneetown is burning down,
Who tole you so?

Cynthe, my darlin' gal,
Who tole you so?
Cynthie, my darlin' gal,
How do you know?

How the hell d'ye 'spect me to hold her,
Way down below?
I've got no skin on either shoulder,
Who tole you so?

De houses dey is all on fire,
Way down below.
De houses dey is all on fire,
Who tole you so?

My ole missus tole me so,
Way down below.
An' I believe what ole missus says,
Way down below.

After being flooded out several times (due more to the Engineers working on flood control, I believe), the town was moved to higher ground. When I went through there years ago, the carcases of some old stone buildings were still on the old site. The town had lost its importance. Shawneetown is referred to in other threads.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 30 Sep 07 - 01:12 PM

I used Google Book Search to search for "beech oar" and found this, from "Lights and Shadows of American Life" by Mary Russell Mitford, 1832. The chapter is called "The Last of the Boatmen."
    As they left the shore, they gave the Indian yell: and broke out into a sort of unconnected chorus, commencing with —

      "Hard upon the beech oar!
      She moves too slow!
      All the way to Shawneetown,
      Long while ago."
I also found some quotes--the oldest was 1874--that used the spelling "beach oar." The same 4 lines are quoted in several old books, but none gives more lyrics than that.


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Sep 07 - 03:22 PM

I wonder if the last line should be- Long way to go.

I have seen excerpts from the Mitford volumes before; they suggest that the book is worth reading. Unfortunately, the three volumes of "Lights..." are costly. A reprint was made some years ago, but it is just as expensive.
Following Dixon's search for beech oar, I found this in a blog. Something newly coined? (the dialect looks false).

HARD UPON THE BEECH OAR

Hard upon the beech oar
She moves too slow
All the way tay Mandan town
Long way tay go.

Hard upon the beech oar
Up Mizzou we go
All the way to Cook's Sound
Long way to go.

Hard upon the beech oar
Row you bastards row
Big John is blowing our roofs down
And it's a long way to go.


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Sep 07 - 10:43 PM

Another blog version without source; close to the version by the Patons, thread 4597: beech oar .

Some poles up but we floats down,
Way down on the Ohio to Shawneetown.
Hard on the beech oar, she moves too slow,
Way down to Shawneetown on the Ohio.

Whiskey in the brown jug, cornmeal in the sack,
Gonna float her down to Shawneetown and bushwhack her back.
Hard on the beech oar, she moves too slow,
Way down in Shawneetown on the Ohio.

The water's mighty cold boys, the air is thick and dank,
That damned old fog is got so thick you can scarcely see the bank.
Way down to Shawneetown on the Ohio.

Got a wife in Cairo, another in New Orleans,
Gonna float on down to Shawneetown and see my Angeline.
Hard on the beech oar, she moves too slow,
Way down in Shawneetown on the Ohio.

Anyone know who sang this?
Way down in Shawneetown


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jan 08 - 04:11 PM

While listening to Martin Simpson's recording of "Shawnee Town" (from an album called "The Definitive Collection") online from Pandora pandora.com I googled the lyrics and came upon this very interesting and informative thread. THANKS, GUYS! :-)

What is interesting to me is that I just updated my collection of recordings by Cathy Barton & Dave Para, which included a Christmas CD they recorded with the Paton family. Then I happen upon this lively discussion (about as lively as an eight-year discourse can be, I figure!) I am surprised that they (Barton-Para)or their late recording partner, Bob Dyer, haven't recorded this song since Bob's main emphasis was river songs, and B-P sing mainly Missouri/ midwestern/plains/river songs. I shall have to suggest it to them if they haven't already done so! Oops, I just checked their discography Cathy Barton & Dave Para discography They have indeed recorded it on one of the few albums of theirs I'm still lacking, the aptly-named "Livin'On The River".


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: GUEST,Marlisa Clapp
Date: 19 May 09 - 12:11 PM

I know Dillon Bustin. He is launching a website soon.
Are you still looking for more info?
He has a concert this Fri if you are in Massachusetts.

See
mcdstudios.com for my contact info


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Art Thieme
Date: 19 May 09 - 02:59 PM

Sandy mentioned that Mr. Bustin got it from Poss Skaggs. If I recall right, "Poss" was short for "Possum" -- He either looked like that animal, or was a trapper of those. (I'm sure it has nothing to do with George Jones. ;-)

Art
(Still here in this thread--after all these many years!)


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Subject: RE: Way Down in Shawneetown - Dillon Bustin
From: Jacob B
Date: 20 May 09 - 11:50 AM

What's missing is a link to that website!

I didn't find it, but I found

a page about Dillon Bustin

and

his CD on CDBaby.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: ClaireBear
Date: 30 Dec 10 - 12:16 PM

I can't attest to its origins (though WE certainly didn't write it), but my band sings an additional verse to Dillon Bustin's Shawneetown that fits the information Sandy provided above about keelboats vs. flatboats. This verse should come just before the reprise of the first one:

Keelboat boys call loud and long
They're round as a barrel but twice as strong
Hard on the beech oar, she moves too slow,
Way down to Shawneetown on the Ohio.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: stallion
Date: 30 Dec 10 - 02:56 PM

We just put it out on our new cd "Crossing the Pond", the liner notes got cocked up and it was put down as "trad" and not Dillon Bustin, however the important recording licence does have it credited to Dillon and he should recieve the royalty payment. Having said that Ron learnt the song from a scotsman in a bar in Perth, Western Ausralia, I haven't heard Dillon's version yet, perhaps Charley can enlighten us as to whether our version is a copy of his.
Peter


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 30 Dec 10 - 05:11 PM

Not sure if you guys were aware of this reference to Shawneetown in 1821, which was introduced by J. Lighter in our chanties discussion.

http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=126347#2869260

You'll also find it in this publication:

1828        Hall, James. _Letters from the West._ London: Henry Colburn.

The song text is:

Some rows up, but we row down,
All the way to Shawnee town
Pull away - pull away!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin
From: Charley Noble
Date: 30 Dec 10 - 05:31 PM

Gibb-

Nice to have this historical note added to this thread.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 31 Dec 10 - 03:28 PM

I just read a book, author Jay Feldman, that deals with this part of the world. It is:

When the Mississippi ran backwards : empire, intrigue, murder, and the New Madrid earthquakes. 2005

Shawnee Town even gets a mention. The book combines history and geology. I was especially interested in the description of the colossal New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812. I think every American, and certainly every Midwesterner, ought to know about those quakes.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin
From: Charley Noble
Date: 31 Dec 10 - 09:27 PM

Leeneia-

Surely you're not implying that a massive earthquake might happen again and that the entire set of "red states" would become a great inland sea?

Thread drift but I couldn't resist!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 01 Jan 11 - 11:04 AM

There might be another terrible quake, but an inland sea is not in the cards.

In the meantime, people in the region should practice basic earthquake safety - water heaters strapped down, no heavy pictures over beds, a pair of shoes right by the bed, a piece of heavy furniture to hide under for every member of the family. etc


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 01 Jan 11 - 11:08 AM

Here's a book I just read which finally makes sense of those inland seas of yore:

Vanished ocean : how Tethys reshaped the world
Stow, D. A. V. (Dorrik A. V.)
Publication: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2010.


Too bad it has maps of the world that are about the size of a business card.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Feb 12 - 07:07 PM

In my opinion from being around the river all my life and googleing beach oar is, it doesn't exist. I believe the line is about bushwacking the boat back and it should read " It's hard on the beach, or she moves too slow" Bushwacking is putting men on the beach with ropes to the boat to pull it up stream when it can't be poled up. Dillion, being around water, must have known this. It was confusing to me when i heard this 30 or so years ago, but thinking about the song led me to believe as i stated. I have not found any thing to change my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 10 Feb 12 - 08:29 PM

Guest-

Interesting but would you provide some "guest handle" so we can at least keep track of you. We (well most of us on this forum) value comments that advance the discussion but it's nice to know who is generating them.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble (who is not Charley Noble)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST,Harris (classmate of Dillon's)
Date: 01 Apr 12 - 08:57 PM

Dillon has a website, replete with phone number and other contact information:

http://www.dillonbustin.net/about.html


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jun 13 - 11:52 PM

@ GUEST 10 Feb 12 -

You're right about bushwhacking flatboats up river, but I think the "beech oar" in the song is simply an oar made of beech wood, which is very strong and suitable to the purpose.

The Google eBook "A Manual of Forestry ...: Forest utilization, by W.R. Fisher ... being an English translation of 'Die forstbenutzung,' by Dr. Karl Gayer" may shed some light: "Large quantities of wood are used for making rudders and oars. Ashwood is best, but beechwood is also used" (1896, p. 96). The tree grows throughout the eastern United States as far west as Illinois.

- Peter Ellertsen, Springfield, IL


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: Squaresinger
Date: 28 Feb 14 - 10:26 AM

I was puzzled by 'beach oar' from the first time I read it in this spelling. I first supposed it might mean the rowing oar at the side of the beach, but I have never seen anything on board a ship named with reference to something outside the ship. If a rowing oar was meant it would have been called the starboard oar or the port oar.
I didn't find any other reference that explained 'beach', so I'll stick to 'beech' or possibly "It's hard on the beach, or she moves too slow".

Anyone with thoughts on beach versus beech?

Arend


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Subject: RE: Origin: Way Down in Shawneetown (Dillon Bustin)
From: GUEST,Tuco
Date: 19 Feb 16 - 05:00 AM

Being old enough to remember the Fess Parker "Davy Crockett" movies, I recall scenes where Davy was on a keel boat(?) that was propelled by men walking the length of the boat, from bow to stern, with long wooden poles that were long enough to reach the river bottom so that as they pushed against the pole while walking the length of the boat, it pushed the boat forward.

In that regard, "beach" (or river bottom near enough to shore for the poles to reach the river bed) might make more sense than naming the wood which those poles were made of. As far as an "oar" goes, that might not necessarily have to be what we might think of as a wooden pole with a flat blade that pushes against water, not the river bed.

More like such, maybe: https://youtu.be/WYRtziLzSjQ 'Course, that's presuming Hollywood got it right for river boat propelling of that period.


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